Increasing Transparency in the Family Court
Media access to the Family Court is set to increase in 2024. The Transparency Implementation Group Reporting Pilot introduces a presumption that accredited media and legal bloggers can report on the detail of family and children law cases, subject to strict rules around anonymity.
The pilot started in three courts in January 2023 (Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle) and is this month being extended to a further 16 courts. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division comments:
“Extending the reporting pilot to family courts across the country is a huge step in the judiciary’s ongoing work to increase transparency and improve public confidence and understanding of the family justice system. After a pioneering year of reporting from Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle journalists and legal bloggers will be allowed to report from a further sixteen courts.
“We hope than in extending the pilot further we can continue to understand the impact that family court reporting has. I would like to urge the media to read the guidance and come to the family courts to see the vital and challenging work that is done there, and to report on the cases and issues that are so important.”
Benefits of Increased Transparency
- Public Confidence and Understanding: Enhanced media reporting will provide the public with a clearer picture of how family courts operate, potentially increasing trust in the system.
- Balanced Reporting: Accredited reporters and bloggers can offer more nuanced and informed perspectives on complex family law cases.
- Educational Value: Media reports can serve an educational purpose, informing the public about legal rights and processes within the family justice system.
Challenges and Considerations
- Maintaining Privacy: Balancing transparency with the privacy and welfare of families, especially children, is a critical challenge.
- Quality of Reporting: Ensuring that media coverage is accurate, respectful, and adheres to legal guidelines is essential to maintain the integrity of the reporting process.
As the Transparency Implementation Group Reporting Pilot expands in 2024, it heralds a new era in the UK Family Court system. This initiative is not just about opening the doors to the media but about fostering a deeper understanding and trust in the family justice system.
Notably, this initiative is also one of many key developments in family law that 2024 will witness.